Consumers could save up to £8 billion a year by 2030 if the UK embraces the smart power revolution, according to a report published by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).
The report, published in March, makes a series of strategic recommendations to modernise the energy sector, bringing jobs and investment to the country and cutting bills for consumers.
The smart power revolution detailed in the report is principally based on three innovations: interconnection, storage, and demand flexibility.
Together, they have the potential to help the UK meet its 2050 carbon targets while at the same time securing our energy supply for future generations.
The need for change
Our existing, post-war infrastructure is based largely on fossil fuel generators. Coal, nuclear, and the oldest gas fired power stations are reaching the end of their lives.
With two-thirds of existing power stations expected to close by 2030, fundamental changes are required as we de-carbonise our energy sector, creating an electricity system fit for the future.
Smart Power: the future
The idea of smart power is built around three innovations:
- Interconnection – An electricity network with our continental neighbours is already cutting bills in the UK, but the report suggests the government should redouble its effort to open new connections to cheap, green power supplies which would greatly benefit the UK.
- Storage – The UK needs to become a world leader in making use of rapidly accelerating new technologies in the field.
- Demand flexibility – A new generation of hi-tech systems would allow consumers to save money and cut emissions. The report suggests the government should improve regulations and pilot new schemes to ensure the UK benefits from the systems.
The report argues that the UK is uniquely placed to lead the world in a smart power revolution, and failure to take advantage of this would be an expensive mistake.
Chairman of the NIC, Lord Adonis, said:
“Quality infrastructure is fundamental to our quality of life. Better decision making, clearer planning, and more efficient and timely delivery can help create the world class infrastructure this country needs to succeed.
“We do not call for new subsidies or significant public spending, but rather a level playing field through fairer regulation and a better managed network to allow these exciting new technologies to compete.”
For the smart power revolution to realise its full potential we must ensure that our networks and systems keep up. This requires more active management of our local electricity networks, a national system operator able to keep up with an increasingly complex system, and a strategic approach to upgrading our network.”
An exciting time for Britain’s power network, on the ground-level, qualified electricians will remain in-demand to improve electrical generation in people’s homes – helping end users opt for low energy equipment, such as LED light bulbs, assisting with the Smart Meter roll out and upgrading domestic electrical systems where necessary.